Name: Raymond Rushing
Title: Corporate Counsel – Litigation at Cummins Inc.
Firm Background: Associate: 2018-19, Product Liability & Mass Torts Group, Chicago
As a child, Raymond Rushing would often accompany his grandmother to elections and political events, assisting people who didn’t have the resources to travel to ensure their voices were heard at the polls. She taught him that “if you ever want to change things in this country you have to do it through the law.” Those words were the start of a career, and he’s been on this path ever since.
Raymond completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma where he majored in African American studies, which fueled his later decision to choose Chicago as he began his journey as a law student. “When you look at the history of Chicago, all who have come through this city, it’s enlightening,” Raymond said. “I decided if I wanted to be like Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Barack Obama, Oprah (just to name a few), I had to move to Chicago. That was my path.”
At John Marshall (now the University of Illinois Chicago Law School), Raymond sought out opportunities to grow and excel in his studies. He served as an admissions ambassador and as a graduate assistant in the university’s diversity office. During his second year he externed for U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys (U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois 1995-2014). Raymond then summered as a law clerk for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (IARDC). In his third year, Raymond served as president of the Student Bar Association, which earned him a permanent seat on many different committees within the university where he was able to serve his fellow peers, something Raymond is passionate about.
His habit of seeking out ways to improve himself to serve others around him has stuck – Raymond said, “I'm always, ALWAYS open to opportunities. I'm never going to stop seeking new blessings.”
After graduation, Raymond clerked for the Honorable Maria Valdez in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where he was responsible for the social security appeals docket. Upon the completion of his clerkship, Raymond was offered a position at Foley & Mansfield, where he spent just over a year practicing toxic tort and product liability before being drawn to what was then Faegre Baker Daniels. “I have a huge love for science,” he said, and subsequently he “wanted to do more products work… [Faegre Drinker] had and still does have an award-winning products practice group.”
“My experience [at Faegre Drinker] was wonderful,” Raymond recalled. “I loved the people. I loved the work. I was a litigator working on medical device work. I was working on some MDLs for a lot of different companies in various industries, so that was really cool.”
During his time with the firm, he worked on a case for his current employer, Cummins. “I was assigned an international breach of contract case for Cummins and it was a pretty big deal. That was how I made really meaningful connections,” he said when explaining how he made the transition in-house. At Cummins, Raymond manages a variety of dockets and cases, including bankruptcy, toxic tort and litigation. He reviews company communications, advises the company’s business units and collaborates with a global team (approximately 80 lawyers worldwide) with international cases in Singapore, Canada and Mexico. They frequently rely on outside counsel and external partners – Faegre Drinker included – as extensions of their company.
“I try to hire people that I know are going to do good work. That makes a big difference and trust goes a long way. I go to people that I can trust,” Raymond explained. “I know the work product that my former colleagues will produce, and I know that if push comes to shove, if there's a matter that is very important, I know that they're going to have my back.”
He also brings the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives to the forefront. Cummins both encourages and relies on their diverse associates to handle matters “because that’s how you train the next generation.” Raymond continued, “It’s not just about having partners on file, diverse associates need to be billing. You have to be intentional. If you really want to change the profession for the better and have it be more inclusive, put [your diverse associates] in front of clients, give them opportunities to do good work and add value and continue to build those relationships.”
Building relationships isn’t just something reserved for Raymond’s professional life, but also his extracurriculars. He is soon-to-be president of the Cook County Bar Association (CCBA) – one of the youngest to do so. “It’s truly an honor to be able to lead this organization, and I am excited to develop and position the association for the next generation,” Raymond said. “My theme will be ‘The Future Is Us,’ and will be about working collaboratively with our partner organizations, but also a lot of the younger attorneys.” One of Raymond’s goals in this position is to cement the importance of bar associations in the legal profession, “We really need to make sure that we're providing services to the community from which we've come and to our members to make them feel connected and that we're adding value to their lives in their practice.”
Raymond has been growing his presence in Chicago since he arrived as a first-year law student in 2012 – he is embedded in the community through his legal, professional and philanthropic efforts. In addition to his work for the CCBA, he currently serves on the board of directors for Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development (BUILD), one of Chicago’s leading mentorship programs for gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development.
“[BUILD is] an anti-gang violence organization, so it's an intervention organization. We have former gang members that work for us that are on the streets trying to help recruit current gang members away from the gangs. We expanded our community center for youth and adults to go there and get certain services from the community.” In tandem with helping to lessen gang violence, BUILD also provides mental health counseling, a direct answer to the trauma in certain communities. The organization is dedicated to dealing with the stigma of mental health in addition to helping people overcome the traumatic events they have experienced in their communities. “[W]e're really interested in transforming the west side of Chicago and that's what I'm really passionate about.”
As a gay man of faith, he rejects the notion that there are contradictions in his self and belief. “[P]eople always ask, ‘Raymond, are you gay?’ And I answer yes. Some ask, ‘How are you gay and also a man of faith?’ And I said, ‘That's completely easy because if you grow up in Oklahoma in a small town like, I did, we grew up in the church.’” Both his identity and faith inform his growth in his legal career. Of all his opportunities – new, old, and yet to be discovered – Raymond believes, “[W]hen you learn how to pray and start to trust God, you see all the miracles in store for you.”
This commitment fuels his passion as he looks toward the future: “I love practicing law and it is a blessing. It is a privilege. I eventually want to try politics…to serve my peers and speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.” Before his future political career, Raymond hopes to serve as the chief legal officer of a Fortune 100 company.
When he isn’t working, Raymond enjoys baking, playing video and board games, and trying all the restaurants he possibly can in the Chicago area. His personal goal for 2023 is to read a book a month. Currently on his nightstand: Identity Leadership by Steadman Graham.
When asked what he wanted people to take away from this interview, Raymond had some parting wisdom:
“Figure out who you are as a person, or you're not going to be comfortable being yourself. Live your truth, because God only made one you. If you’re busy trying to be someone else, you're going to miss the mark. You're going to miss why you're here on this earth—don’t miss out on the really special reason you as an individual are here. It took me a while to learn that lesson. but I'm so glad I'm doing it now.”